Businesswoman standing on a ladder looking through binoculars

For those of us who have had a person with a developmental disability in our lives, it may be hard to imagine how that person may appear from an observer’s point of view. To us, their habits, mannerisms and behaviours are things we are used to. It is important, though, to be aware that many people have never encountered such special people and their initial reactions will be quite varied. It is also important to hold our judgement if their reactions are not of the positive variety.

Being involved with people with developmental disabilities, we are often quick to chastise or “scold” someone for not being as accepting of these wonderful people as we are. We have to remember, though, that reactions can come from a variety of places and most often, they arise from “the unknown”. When you don’t often interact with people with developmental disabilities, some of their behaviours can seem a bit odd.

The first day I walked into the room where I was going to be volunteering at Semiahmoo House Society, I was greeted with “Well look what the rat dragged out of the bag!” It was said by a very lovely man, albeit at the top of his lungs! My response was to laugh, I thought this was a great beginning to this adventure, but if you were someone who was not used to these quirks, you might actually take offence if this was said to you walking down the street.

The place we can most effectively create change in people’s attitudes, is with our children. My brother’s nieces and nephews are very accepting of him and people like him, however that doesn’t still mean they aren’t curious. When we see someone different than ourselves, we are all curious. As a parent, I answer their questions as truthfully and as fully as I can, I think it is a great disservice to our children and the people who hold their curiosity to just ignore them. If we continue to show our children that everyone is different and special in their own way, our future will be better for all of us.


By Joanna Redfern, Volunteer Blogger

For more information about Joanna, please go to:

Semiahmoo House Society, a non-profit organization located in Surrey/White Rock, exists to provide quality services and supports to people with disabilities and their families in the community. 

The Semiahmoo Foundation, located in Surrey/White Rock, exists to fund, support and enhance the programs and services delivered by Semiahmoo House Society.

Leave a Reply